These books have taken on a new interest in my attempt to live without some of the more expensive modern commodities. So much so, that I intend to profile some of them over the coming months, beginning with the grandmother of them all: Lady Bountiful's Legacy.
A Book of Practical Instructions & Duties, Counsels & Experiences, Anecdotes, Hints, & Recipes, in Housekeeping & Domestic Management. Not unlike this Blog, in fact.
Anyhow, Lady Bountiful is a thoroughly annoying character and, I suspect, a man. Nothing else could account for that peculiar mixture of utter confidence and total ignorance when it comes to housekeeping. She knows nothing about everything, but spouts it anyway: Thirst, to prevent: In hot weather, eat plenty of fresh butter at breakfast. Avoid drinking water as you would poison. Alongside her antipathy to water, she has a worrying love of actual poisons: Chloride of lime has been found to be most effectual to rid a house of rats, mice, flies, wasps, and other similar annoyances. (She warns the housewife not to place this substance on her dresser, or the fumes will cause her china to lose its pattern!!) Although entirely without medical training, she cites some thoroughly alarming remedies with the confidence of Dr Kildare: Creosote is said to be a remedy for sea-sickness. (Note: DO NOT try this at home.) Moreover, she gives credence to her madness by her own idiosyncratic interpretation of history, the recitation of increasingly gruesome anecdotes, and by peppering the narrative with the names of Famous Doctors whom we are obviously Supposed to Know.
That said, there may nevertheless be some useful things therein, and I intend gving it a more thorough read. But for now I turn to the chapter Cookery for the Poor. Be warned, that her recipes are vague to the point of being nonsensical, and much creativity may be needed to interpret them. Nevertheless, having leafed past the recipes for Sheep's Head Broth, and the disgusting-sounding Onion Porridge, I leave you with the slightly more palatable Rice Stew:
A red herring, or four ounces of lean bacon, cut in pieces; three onions; a few peppercorns, thyme, and parsley; boiled in three pints of water three quarters of an hour, with one pound of clean-picked whole rice.* When it boils, set the pot by the side of the fire: the rice will swell, take up all the water, and become quite soft. If properly done, it will weigh nearly five pounds, and will dine five men, as it frequently did in the year of scarcity, 1800. If the rice is not sufficiently soft, add a little more water as it stands by the fire.
* yes, you are right, this makes no sense: do you boil the rice for three quarters of an hour, or just bring it to the boil and then let it sit? I suggest frying off the fish or bacon, the onions, and the spices, then adding the water, rice, and thyme, and cooking until the water is absorbed. Then stir in the parsley, and serve.
Oh, and you might want to adjust quantities!
Today's Expenditure: 30p